Sunday, April 15, 2018

Basmati Rice

Cooked basmati rice in a bowl
Rice forms the foundation of every meal in Kerala, and as a second generation South Indian, I was subject to that culinary tradition growing up. Most nights my mom cooked a heaping cup of long-grain, parboiled rice. The nutritionally-rich staple provided the perfect counterpoint to the Spicy Fried Beef, Chicken Stew, Sambar, and thorans (sauteed vegetables) that she rotated on and off the table. My mom insisted that the cooked granules be taut, with one easily separating from the next.

There was always a 10-pound bag of basmati rice in the pantry. My mom used it to make pilafs for dinner guests and Chicken Biryani for family celebrations. It filled the house with an exotic, nutty aroma.

Parboiled rice is my go-to staple (surprise, surprise), but my husband prefers basmati rice. He often makes a pot from the 10-pound bag that we always have on hand. If you're looking for a gluten-free dish to anchor a meal, consider following suit. Basmati rice has exceptionally long and slender granules (pictured above front and center above) making it the Audrey Hepburn of the rice world. When prepared with care, it takes on a slightly toothsome texture that can elevate any meal. 

Tips for Making Rice

Purchase basmati rice that has been aged. The aging process reduces moisture content, intensifying essential oils and boosting flavor over all. 

- Rinse the rice to remove excess starch before cooking. This helps prevent the granules from sticking. 

- If you have time, soak the rice for 20 to 30 minutes before cooking it. This helps hydrate the granules and produce fluffy rice.

- For added flavor, add spices, such as cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon, or saffron to the cooking liquid. 
It will be absorbed by the rice. Coconut oil also adds a lovely flavor. 

Rinsing, draining, and cooking basmati rice


Serves 4


1 cup basmati rice

1 3/4 cups water, broth, or other flavorful liquid
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coconut oil (optional)


Place the rice in a bowl and cover with water. Using your hand, swish the water and rice around. Drain water. Repeat until water becomes clear.

Cover the rice with fresh water and soak for 30 minutes.

Drain water.

Add 1 3/4 cups of water, salt, and coconut oil to rice. Stir. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Do not stir the rice while it is simmering as it will cook unevenly and become sticky. 

Cook until the rice becomes tender, about 15 minutes. 

Remove from heat. Keep covered for 10 minutes.   

Fluff with a spoon before serving.

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